That said, there are certain things in Christian liturgy that I think are absolutely essential which are missing in my church and in many other non-liturgical Protestant churches. That is to say, while I don't think we need to do full liturgy week in and week out there are critical components of the liturgy that I think can't be ignored. And yet we do.
An example here is the confession of sins.
Without liturgy I don't know when low-church Protestants ever get around to confessing their sins. Sure, there are often small group venues where prayer requests are shared. But more often than not, people tend to share life-stressors rather than sins.
And to be clear, I don't think liturgical and communal confession is a cure-all for this, but at least it's something.
From the Episcopal Church:
Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.The confiteor from the Catholic Church:
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
I confess to almighty GodA few years ago I was visiting with our worship committee and shared with them my feeling that we needed to add the confession of sins to the beginning of our worship. And being from a bible-driven tradition I told them that we didn't need to use the words used in liturgical churches. We could use the words of Scripture by using various penitential psalms.
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
Sadly, my church hasn't taken up this suggestion.
Now why, you might be wondering, do I feel that this is so important?
I think the confession of sins pushes back on the triumphalism and self-righteousness of the church. See, I have this hunch. My hunch is that the most triumphalistic churches out there don't have the confession of sins in their worship service. Not that saying the confession is a panacea and fix-all. But it has to have a salutary spiritual effect to take a moment each week to corporately say "We've sinned."
We've sinned, often grievously so, against our neighbors by not loving them as we love ourselves in both what we've done to them and what we've failed to do for them.